Arsenal Receive A Guard Of Honour As Champions On This Day, 6th May 1991

As close to being Invincible as can be, a solitary defeat at Stamford Bridge during February prevented that occurring. Arsenal won the title without playing, most of us were dotted in the pubs around Highbury watching second place Liverpool at the City Ground in a teatime kick-off. Nottingham Forest’s 2 – 1 victory meant that Manchester United provided a guard of honour as Arsenal took to the field.

(Click to enlarge)

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Frank Stapleton Leaves Arsenal On This Day, 20th August 1981

Another top scorer left Arsenal for Old Trafford. Frank Stapleton’s dreams of glory were never realised at Old Trafford with FA Cup winners medals in 1983 and 1985 to add to the one he collected at Arsenal.

His goalscoring record in North London was better than subsequent to his move, 75 in 225 appearances as opposed to 60 in 223 at United. Consistent but nothing special in either case.

And no, I’m not bitter. Not at all.

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Arsenal Clown Around In Knighton’s Circus On This Day, 19th August 1989

Defending champions Arsenal arrived at Old Trafford in the August sunshine. Normally the visitors would be the centre of attention but a portly businessman bumbled onto the pitch, juggled the ball before an adoring media and smashed it home in front of what was now his paying public. Michael Knighton was the new owner of Manchester United. Except he wasn’t as the deal crumbled as quickly as it had been announced.

Arsenal were the bystanders as the circus got into full flow. The rebranded Manchester United beer served below the terraces was simply awful; so was Arsenal’s defending in the opening minutes as Steve Bruce opened the scoring. Tony Adams gave way to Gus Caesar and it seemed Arsenal’s afternoon would go from bad to worse.

Except it didn’t. Well not immediately, at least as David Rocastle equalised and Arsenal showed the spirit one normally associates with Champions. Until that is, United scored again. And again. And again, running out 4 – 1 winners in the end. Neil Webb ran the show that afternoon, fresh from his transfer from Nottingham Forest. United lost three of the next four and failed to win a League match from 19th November 1989 through 2nd March 1990. The run began following a 3 – 1 win at Luton and ended with the same opponents beaten 4 – 1 at Old Trafford.

Arsenal by contrast recovered quickly to win five and draw two of the next seven, finishing fourth at the end of the season whilst United slumped to thirteenth as their quest for a first League title since 1968 ended in more failure.

And Knighton? He pitched up at Carlisle to own the club before talking with aliens.

David Herd Leaves Arsenal On This Day, 26th July 1961

The sale of Robin van Persie to Manchester United was nothing new or unusual, it was merely the latest of Arsenal’s top scorers to make the trip to Old Trafford.

David Herd had joined Arsenal seven years earlier from Stockport County where he played alongside his father, a relatively unique occurrence in the professional game. In his spell at the club, he scored 107 goals in 180 games.

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Brady To Join Manchester United From Arsenal On This Day, 1st July 1980?

Arsenal players leaving to join Manchester United is only marginally more palatable than them moving across north London, to the end of the Seven Sisters. Or the end of the world, as it is more commonly known.

When Brady announced he was leaving Arsenal at the end of the 1979-80 season, it felt like the end of the world for this then teenager but it was simply another harsh lesson along road of supporting the club. Moving to the continent softened the blow somewhat, he would not pitch up at Highbury every season in an opposition shirt; he would not be beaming from the back pages as he led his new teammates on a charge to glory.

There were strong rumours of United’s interest for many months and Arsenal would have gained from any deal with them financially, with the strong belief being that the Mancunians would have paid more than double the £500,000 which eventually came from Turin. Thankfully it never came to that, Brady never stooped to the depths to which Frank Stapleton or Robin van Persie; it might have been worse than Charlie George joining Tottenham five years earlier.

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